Last Days in the Desert (2015) - full transcript

Ewan McGregor is Jesus - and the Devil - in an imagined chapter from his forty days of fasting and praying in the desert. On his way out of the wilderness, Jesus struggles with the Devil over the fate of a family in crisis, setting for himself a dramatic test.


where are you?


speak to me.

I have water for you here, Yeshua.

That's what your mother
calls you, isn't it?

Any name that's good enough for Mary
is good enough for me.

And what does your father call you?



I'm looking for water. I can work for it.

- What can you do?
- Whatever's needed.

You're building up here.
I know carpentry and stone.

- Where are you headed?
- Jerusalem, but I'm a little lost.

Where are you coming from?

From spending time in the desert.

Why? There's nothing here.

What is Jerusalem like?

Dirty and corrupt.

But also alive. Very alive.

- Do you have a father?
- Yes. He's out.

- He'll ask me if I offered you food.
- That's not necessary.

Thank you.

Stay. Please. Rest for a while.

Talking to your father
is like talking to a rock.

He's so busy with his little things,
the shape of a drop of dew,

the sound roots make breaking
their way through the ground.

Everything matters more to him than you.


My father loves me.

He is amused by you.

He loves himself only.

Are you lost?


Are you one of those preachers?

Looking for something here in the desert
that you can't find anywhere else?

How long have you been out here, holy man?

Since the last full moon.
Maybe a little longer.


No. You people are never alone.

Some spirit or something
is always with you, isn't it?

Tell me one thing you've learned out here,
and I'll offer you shelter for the night.

- Oh, that's not necessary.
- Please. It would give me pleasure.

Man makes do anywhere.

Because he is man.


Give me a hand with this.

Thank you.

- There's no need to wait for her.
- I don't mean to offend, but I'm fasting.

What is it?

She thinks it's funny
that she wants to eat but can't...

and our guest, who can, won't.

What are you building up there?

A house for me to live in.

My father wants me to stay here.
To help him make something of this place.

Is that what you want?

What is it that you want?

I want to go to Jerusalem.

And I want to see the sea.

And I want to see
the lighthouse at Alexandria.

And does your father know that?


Why don't you talk to him about it?

I've seen Jerusalem.

I've walked away without my father
knowing and I've seen it from a ridge.

It shines in the sun and I want it
so much, I could scream.

I don't want to waste my time here.

Wasting life is a sin.

I want to leave my footprint on the world.

Come, holy man.

Oh, this isn't necessary.
I can sleep outside.

No. She won't bother you.



I've committed a horrible sin.

My son is not my husband's son.

I don't want to die...

and leave this lie behind me.

I don't want my son trapped here forever.

Help me, please.

In your holy man comings-and-goings...

have you learned any medicine?

Cures are the only things worth seeking.

For pain... suffering.

The rest is just...

This boy is good
at taking care of the sick.

He's had practice, unfortunately.

If he had come into this world somewhere
else, he could have made it his life's work.

And what did you want for yourself
when you were a boy?

I wanted to raise livestock...

and be a butcher, like my father.

He never taught me any of it, though.

He said it had taken him years and years

to master the skill on his own,
and he wasn't just going to give it away.

"Every man must make himself."
I heard that a thousand times.

He was a selfish man.

And he died alone.

What does your father do?

Ask for permission
when you address a guest, boy.

That's all right. We spoke some yesterday.

My father's a carpenter.

Smart man.

A man who is good at work like that
can always provide for his children.

And did you want to be a carpenter also
when you were a boy?

Your good intentions will be wasted here.

They don't need us to ruin their lives.
They'll do that all by themselves.

Do you know what I do
when they're finally mine?

I have them watch the life they've lived
over and over again. Forever.

Oh, what anger.

You are your father's son.

Very well. I'll stay out of it.
Surprise me.

- And if I do?
- A wager?

If you can solve
this entanglement, this knot...

to the satisfaction of the mother,
the father and the child,

I'll stay out of your way
for the rest of your journey home.

And if I fail?

Failure is its own punishment.

- That's Daddy talk.
- Enough for the day.

This is all just an excuse
to delay your departure, isn't it?

Because you're scared to go on.
Scared out of your head.

You're not ready and you know it.


What part of a bird doesn't fly?

It's a riddle.
What part of a bird doesn't fly?

I don't know.

Its shadow.

- Did you make that up?
- Yes.

It's good.


I want the boy to learn a trade.

There's plenty for him
to learn right here.

Any trade that he wants.

Or that you want for him.

In Jerusalem, perhaps.

I want this very much.

I would need money for that.
Just to get him set up and started.

No one will take him
as an apprentice without payment.

For food, at least.


You are...

a powerful...


beautiful man...

and you will find a way.

I know it.

I cannot do my dying while he's here.

My father was 47 when he had me.
My mother was 20.

He had another wife before her,
but she died.

And now my mother will die too.

And my father says
a man makes his own luck.


What did he do to make two wives die?


I agree with you.

Do you have a wife or children?

Do you plan to?

Well, you never know, right?

- Have you ever sailed on a boat?
- Yes, I have.

- Is it scary?
- It can be terrifying.

But mostly it's thrilling.

My father sailed on a boat once.

He said he got caught in a storm at sea.

He said it was a nightmare.

Everything outside of our world
is scary to him.

My father says once my mother
is buried here that we cannot leave.

He says a grave ties a man
to the land forever.

Do you think I'm selfish
because I don't want to live here?


My father has lived here his whole life...

and he's lived it the way he wanted to.

But now it's my turn. Men take turns.

I am not a bad son.

I'm not.

I am not a bad son!

I am not a bad son!

I'm not a bad son!

I am not a bad son!



It hurts.

I want it to be over.

I'm not afraid of death.

I'm only scared of being alone
when I get there.

You will not be alone.

None of us is alone.

Find better words, Yeshua.
You must work at that.

Intention is good, but...

often the words are hollow and useless.

Or better still...

find an action.


Action over words. Always.

Otherwise, silence.

You think you are his only child?

There are others.


There is only me.

There is only me.

Look in on your mother.

Did the boy speak with you
when you went to the water?

A little.

I don't know how to talk to him.
The words get caught in my throat.

I fight to push them through
and they come out harsh.

I suppose he thinks I'm angry at him.

He doesn't know me...

and I don't know him.

Any words of advice, holy man?

Talk to him about something
that he's interested in.

What is he interested in?


He makes up a very good riddle.

I don't like riddles.

That shooting star last night.
You enjoyed that.

- It was a bore.
- Liar.

I am a liar. That is the truth.

I've seen every shooting star
since the first one.

Every flash of lightning.

I've heard the last gasp
of each thing that ever lived.

Nothing's interesting anymore.

Nothing surprises you? Not a thing?

The repetitiveness.

The obstinate, dull repetitiveness of your
father's plan is bewildering to me.

The same lives lived over
and over and over and over again.

Is there a plan?

It all has to turn into something, it has to
pour out into something, but into what?

And that's my weakness...


But I'll stay as long
as it takes, forever...

to witness the end.

The final sunset. If there is one.

Maybe on that day,
late in the afternoon, seconds away,

he'll want to start it all over again...

from the beginning.

He's done it before. Recreated
the whole thing, retold the whole thing.

On a whim. With little differences
that must mean the world to him,

a branch that crooks
in a different direction,

one egg more or less
in the nest of a flea.

What a self-centered...

self-indulgent creature he is. Isn't he?

Deaf-mute. Insatiable.

These things he expects of you.

Do you think anyone will care?

Men of 1,000 years from now?

What's it like to be in his presence?

Is there a face?


There is no face.

There is no face.

There's a thing that swallows you.

It holds you together while it's
tearing you apart and it's terrifying.

It makes you feel worthless...

and it makes you want to be worthless.

And all the while, it makes you believe
that you and he are one and the same...

That... that is...

Well, that can be quite confusing.

That's how I remember it, anyway.

It's been a million years since he
so much as looked in my direction.

- Your pride made him angry.
- I'm not proud. I am not proud.

He's the proud one.

- How's our little wager going?
- I do not wager.

Oh, dear me, course not.

- What?
- You already know the outcome, don't you?

- No. Not at all.
- Yes. Yes, you do.

I am able to do that generally, yes.

But when it comes to you
and your little things, not always.

I could tell you what would've happened if
you'd passed by this place a moment earlier.

Would you like to know?

The boy would not have met you.

After the mother's death,

his relationship
with the father deteriorates.

He puts up with it for several years,
expecting that the father will not live long.

Eventually, he poisons the father
and is hanged for it.

Along the way, the boy
has a son who remains here.

Like the grandfather, he loves the desert.

That's how it would have been this time.

In previous tellings of the world,
it was all a little different.

Sometimes it was nothing but love
between the father and the son.

That's how your father amuses himself.

Now it's your turn to take a hand.

Can you do any better?

Why do you live here?

Because the desert is ruthless.

It strips you of your vanities,
your illusions, and...

gives you the opportunity
to see yourself for who you are.

Isn't that why you're here?

Because your god speaks louder here?

God speaks wherever a man wants to listen.

What I said to you about my son...

It doesn't matter that we don't talk.

We're not women.

A father talks through example.

He's the best boy in the world.

Too good, perhaps.

Do you see that?
The smooth rock jutting out.

- Just below the crack there.
- The reddish rock?

Yes. That's Jasper stone. I'm sure of it.

I need a sample to take to market.

- I would share any profits with you.
- No, that wouldn't be necessary.

I can't in good conscience allow you
to do more work for nothing.

If you don't want the money,
you give it to the poor.

How would you go about it?

It would take three people.

Two to lower the third.

Yes, that's right.
You and I would lower the boy.

Just to pick at the rock.

And if it's all that I think it is,
I will return with laborers and dig deep.

It could change the course of our lives.

The boy's life, anyway.

I feel better.

You do? Good. That's good.

My mother had this when she was my age.

And then she was fine.

My father, my sisters and I...

once spent a night in Jaffa.

Did I tell you this already?

Tell me again.

My father's cousin put us up by the port.

I could barely sleep...

with the sounds of the city...

dogs barking...

music from a wedding...

men quarreling...

a pig brought to slaughter...

a drunk woman laughing.

And the smells...

pepper, cedar wood...


If you're ever there...

you think of me.

Yes. I will.

I took her to doctors,
brought doctors to her.

Magicians, quacks. I tried them all.

She's going to die, holy man.

There is nothing to be done about her.

When her eyes close for the last time...

our whole world will come
to an end forever.

It's stunning, isn't it?

That life ends.

You will meet again.

We will have been here together.

And we leave the boy behind.

That'll have to do.

How far can a man walk into the desert?

Only halfway.

After that, he's walking out.

When you leave,
you could take me with you.

I could pass for your son.

That would be believable, wouldn't it?

Believable, yes, but nevertheless a lie.

But a lie that wouldn't hurt anyone.

My mother and father
wouldn't be there to hear it.

A lie hurts the person who tells it.

You could adopt me.
That way it wouldn't be a lie.

The Romans do it all the time,
adopt each other.

Have you found what you
were looking for out here?

Yes. Yes, I have.

What were you looking for?

I was looking for a place to reflect
and to pray in peace.

A place to look inward and to find myself.

I walk out there, too.

Sometimes when I'm out there,

I feel this thing rising inside of me,

that I am everything
and that everything is me.

That I will always be alive. Forever.

And it's very conceited,
I know, to feel that way.

I'm ashamed of that feeling.

Some wine, holy man?

No. Thank you.

Boy. Boy.

You are an easy target.

Because you're weak.

- How's your mother doing?
- She's feeling better.

She thinks it's passing.

Take your knife, boy.

Just in case.

If I had fallen behind like that,

my father would have caned me
on the soles of my feet.


I am stronger than 10 men...

and I am taller than 10 men,
but a boy can carry me.

What am I?

It's a riddle.

I am stronger than 10 men,

I'm longer than 10 men,
and a boy can carry me.

What am I?

A rope.

It's a rope.



Do you see that piece of rock?

The holy man and I
will lower you with rope.

All you have to do is chisel out a piece
and we'll pull you back up.


No. I'm not going down there.

You will.

No. You know I'm afraid
of falling from high places.

That is precisely why you will do it.

I will not do it!
I'm not going down there!

You will not disobey me.
You will regret it.

He knows I'm scared to death of heights.
What kind of father asks me to do this?

Please. Please, let him go.
Let him go. I can go down.

I'll do it. I'll do it.

I will go down myself.

Do you think it can be done?
Just you and the boy to hold the ropes?



Cut yourself from the rope.
You too, holy man.

I'll only drag you over if I slip again.


What is it?

What is it? What is it?

I don't want my mother
to see him like this.

He looks so much smaller now, doesn't he?

You are a good son.

Your son loves you.

Your son loves you.

Your son loves you.
He is your son and he loves you.

Am I expected to just walk away now?

As if I'd never met these people?

As if they mean nothing to me?




Please, go.

If I leave here without a blessing,
I won't make it one night out there.

A boy needs his father's permission
to become a man.

It's perverse, isn't it?

Love God above all things.

Love life.

Show me his destiny.

- Yeshua...
- Show me now!

You could have pulled the father up
and seven heavier men if you'd wanted to.

That's nonsense.

No. She's mine!


Who the hell do you think you are?

This is it for me.

You didn't think I was going
to walk you all the way, did you?

Why here?

My feet hurt.

I'll come to you in the end.

And if you give me a sign
I'll help you down...

and you can stay.

Give my regards to the old man.